Sharing the gift of gaming

What better gift to give to someone special than gaming? Whether it’s introducing a loved-one who’s never played before to the world of video games or helping a gamer-friend through a genre that’s new to them, we enjoy sharing our love for our hobby.

Last month, DanamesX from Tales from the Backlog launched the EXP Share: a monthly community event designed to encourage us all to share our experiences around a particular subject connected to video games. The topic for December is: ‘A story where you shared the gift of gaming with someone, or someone shared it with you.’ It’s a lovely subject for this time of year and a nostalgic one perfect for Christmas, so here are some of my favourite gaming memories.

1990: an Amiga 500 and The Secret of Monkey Island

genericI’m sure everybody already knows the story of how I originally got into gaming as a child. My dad’s Commodore 64 and the Usborne coding books made me curious about games with narratives more in depth than ‘save the princess’; and then an introduction to The Secret of Monkey Island after receiving an Amiga 500 kicked off a long-lasting love of the adventure genre and a crush on wannabe pirates. In fact, you can read all about those events it in my previous EXP Share post.

2013: the joy of video games

I first met the SpecialEffect team in 2013 after coming across their stand at the EGX event and have been volunteering for the charity since. They believe it’s everyone’s turn to play and experience the joy of video games. They put fun and inclusion back into the lives of people with physical disabilities by helping them to get involved, and use a range of technology such as modified controllers and eye-control software to find a way for individuals to play to the very best of their abilities.

2014: Cards Against Humanity

When Tim from Timlah’s Texts & Unity3D Tech and I realised we were both due to be in Birmingham at the same time, we immediately arranged to meet up for a drink in a pub at the NEC. It was still a bit of a surprise when he walked in dressed as Edward Elric and handed me a card saying something rude though – I had no idea what Cards Against Humanity was back then. We’ve been friends ever since, and my other-half and I have missed not being able to see him and his partner Jake this year.

2015: a PlayStation 4

Rezzed, video games, gaming, expo, EthanMy stepson’s reaction when he dived into his Christmas stocking and pulled out a box containing LittleBigPlanet 3 was a confused one: “I’ve always wanted to play this game, but it says it’s for PlayStation and we don’t have one.” It was at this point that I surprised Ethan and Pete with another box containing a PlayStation 4. We spent most of the holidays that year playing video games and letting the kid stream them on Twitch, so friends and family could stop by and say hello in chat.

2015: The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO)

The Elder Scrolls Online, video game, tankard, inn, drink, woman, barmanFriend-of-the-blog Phil kindly lent us a batch of titles including ESO so we were geared up and ready to play with our new PlayStation 4 – but then Pete came down with flu and passed out on the sofa for several days. That meant I was left to entertain myself in between fetching him tea and paracetamol, and it’s here that my on-off addiction. It’s a game I find myself returning to every few months and returning to Vvardenfell for some fishing has helped pass a few hours during the COVID-19 lockdown.

2016: Journey

Journey, video game, mountain, stranger, dessert, sky, star, sand, cloudsWe didn’t expect Ethan to be fascinated with Journey as soon as we handed the controller over to him. After climbing the snowy mountain and reaching the end, he said: “So I’m the star… and the next person playing right now will see me in the sky at the start of their game. That’s cool.” Getting the chance to show him that video games don’t always have to be about guns and explosions, and hearing him say that line inspired a post and went on to shape the content I wanted to write for Later Levels.

2018: the PlayStation VR

Ethan, Pete, Christmas, PlayStation VRAfter he fell in love with virtual reality (VR) at his first Rezzed expo in 2017, our families decided to club together to gift Ethan a PlayStation VR for Christmas. The look on his face as he unwrapped it was priceless and, unlike with the PlayStation 4 above, I had my camera ready this time. The headset now comes with us to family events so everyone can get involved and no doubt it will make an appearance again this Christmas – and my non-gaming sister-in-law can put us to shame with how great she is at VR Luge.

2020: game-swaps

When Luke from Hundstrasse and I had to cancel our plans to meet up at the London Gaming Market in March thanks to COVID-19, we decided to send each other the most bizarre PlayStation 2 games we could find. This is how I was introduced to Whiplash and the game-swap series started. Thanks to some lovely blogger-friends, I’ve played games and genres I’ve never experienced before: Metal Gear Solid 2, Final Fantasy XIII, Banjo Kazooie and most recently, VA11 Hall-A.

Thank you to DanamesX from Tales from the Backlog for another excellent topic this month. If you’re interested in joining in with December’s EXP Share, you have until the end of the month and can find all the details in this post.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


Coming of age: gaming with my stepson

Anyone who regularly visits Later Levels or watches our streams will know my stepson. Ethan’s observations on video games have resulted in several posts, a few of which are my favourites, and he occasionally appears on camera when he decides to come down from his bedroom.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe I first met him not long after he’d turned seven because it feels as though he’s grown up so quickly. He’s no longer the shy kid who always carried a cuddly giraffe toy and a 2DS with him wherever he went; he’s now a teenager who’s starting to find their way in the world. To celebrate his birthday and the person he’s becoming, here’s a selection of the games we’ve bonded over during our time as a family and the memories we’ve made over the years together.

The LEGO Movie Videogame

GEEK, expo, convention, video games, Nintendo DS, Mario Kart, EthanEthan played The LEGO Movie Videogame constantly when I was first introduced to him, so much so that I ended up learning the words to the annoying theme tune off by heart. He used to wake me up early on Saturday mornings while Pete was still sleeping so I could he could teach me about it, and it was during these times he said several enlightening things which inspired a post for an earlier blog. It changed the way I felt about writing and the subjects I wanted to cover, setting the future direction for Later Levels.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

GEEK, expo, convention, video games, Mario, costume, Ethan, cosplayMy young stepkid was slightly shocked to realise that ‘girls play video games’ when he met me and I had to prove my credentials during our first few times together. He ended up loving watching me play The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and used to stand behind me, waving his arms about while pretending to be a knight with a sword and shield. One evening Phil came over to my apartment to hang out with us and showed Ethan the bucket trick – and I remember him giggling so hard that he almost wet himself. Good times.

Journey

Rezzed, video games, gaming, expo, EthanJourney taught my stepson that video games don’t always have to be destruction, explosions and a hero who saves the world. After climbing the snowy mountain and reaching the final cutscene, he said: “So I’m the star and the next person playing right now will see me in the sky at the start of their game. That’s cool.” Yet again he came out with something which inspired one of my favourite posts. Even though shared-parenting can still be tough, I think we’re doing ok when it comes to showing Ethan how to use games responsibly.

Minecraft

Bits & Bytes, expo, event, video games, Minecraft, EthanIt’s Phil we have to blame for Ethan’s Minecraft obsession after he gave him a copy as a present. It was lovely to see my stepson become so interested in a game but it brought out a few negative behaviours in him, so it taught Pete and I a lot about responsible parenting and the importance of limiting the amount of playtime. It wasn’t all bad though: Ethan came up with an idea to use Minecraft to raise money for SpecialEffect a few years ago, placing a block of TNT in a tower for every £1 donated and blowing it up on stream.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time


If it’s Phil we must blame for Minecraft-obsession, it’s The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time we must thank for starting to bring about an end to it. We downloaded the title onto his Wii U as a surprise one weekend and despite us being a little worried that the retro-style may put him off, my stepkid ended up loving it. He forgot about bashing things in a world made of blocks and became more interested in helping the citizens of Hyrule. He even wanted to do a Link cosplay for Comic Con (until we told him he’d have to wear tights).

Fallout 4

Comic Con, London, Pete, Ethan, cosplayers, Bill & TedEthan’s obsession with Minecraft may have been bad but it was nowhere near as huge as his fixation with Fallout 4. He found out about it after catching Pete playing on his laptop one weekend in late 2015 and it’s only now that he’s starting to gradually lose interest. He read every book on the series that he can get his hands on; bought so many Funko Pop! Vinyl figures with his pocket-money; and purchased a Pip Boy we found at the London Gaming Market with his birthday money. His bedroom remains a shrine to the Sole Survivor even now.

Job Simulator

Ethan, Pete, Christmas, PlayStation VRFor Christmas 2018, everyone in the family clubbed together to gift Ethan a PlayStation VR and I’ll never forget the look of excitement on his face when he unwrapped the box. It’s now something we take to family gatherings and everyone gets involved. My stepson’s favourite game back then was Job Simulator thanks to his favourite YouTuber at the time and, although it was great to find a virtual-reality title suitable for his age, it turned out to be one of the most mind-numbing to watch. Everyone now groans whenever he asks to put it on.

Overwatch

Ethan, Spencer, ice-cream, boysWhen my stepson asked us if he could spend his pocket-money on a copy of Overwatch last year, we were very surprised and a little apprehensive because he’d always shown an aversion to any kind of competitive team-play in video games. Our fears were abated though when he told us it was his best friend who’d introduced him to the title. You’ll now find them playing together online every weekend, and it’s Spencer who’s responsible for encouraging Ethan to move on from Fallout 4 so they can have shared interests (including ice-cream).

Dungeons & Dragons

wedding, Kim, Pete, EthanAnother recent surprise for us was when Ethan told us he’d always wanted to try a Dungeons & Dragons game, because it was something we’d never mentioned before. We hired the skills of Kevin from The Lawful Geek to run a trial session for him last month and it went so well: we all made it out of the crypt alive, were able to prevent a town from sinking into a swamp, broke a curse and were transformed into knights. It made my stepson’s day and he asked if it’s something we can do again, so it might become a regular family thing.

It hasn’t always been easy: moving into your teenage years is tough for anyone and living in a shared-parenting situation can sometimes make it even more difficult. But I think we’re doing ok so far and we’re finding our way forward together. It’s been a privilege be a part of my stepkid’s life during the past six years and it’s lovely to see him starting to grow into the person he’s going to become. Hopefully there’ll be many more gaming experiences in our future and I’m sure his comments will continue being the inspiration for blog posts.

Happy birthday, Ethan. Have a good one.

Good games for non-gamers

With the UK now into its fifth week of the coronavirus lockdown, many of us are turning to our video games for entertainment. But what if there’s someone in your household who hasn’t picked up a controller in years, or even ever, and they need a little convincing?

There are plenty of releases out there to appeal to someone who has limited experience and now is a great time to point them in the right direction. Get them on side and the rest of this isolation period could be spent gaming! The releases on today’s list are great gateway games to help ease someone into our hobby, and this post is dedicated to the lovely Larissa from Games (and Other Bits) who very kindly tagged Later Levels for a Real Neat Blog Award last month.

Coloring Pixels

If the non-gamer in your life has an artistic nature, then Coloring Pixels by ToastieLabs could be something that appeals to them. It’s also great for a gamer who’s looking for a form of digital stress relief (just what we need in these uncertain times). Think colouring-by-numbers: you simply choose an image you’d like to complete, pick a colour and then start clicking away on the pixels tagged with its associated number. You can see my attempt at filling in 40,000 squares to create ‘Ocean View’ in the video playlist opposite.

Eastshade

Eastshade by Eastshade Studios made it onto my favourites list as soon as I finished it in April last year. Think of a game like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim but without the combat: somewhere you can explore without fear of being attacked, where there are secrets and interesting characters to discover, and plenty of gorgeous artwork to see. It’s an excellent title for anyone who may not yet be experienced to tackle RPG combat mechanics and who knows, it might even get them wanting to try The Witcher or Horizon Zero Dawn next.

Journey

Some people may be opposed to video games because they think they’re all about violence and competition, but Journey by thatgamecompany could be just the thing to convince them otherwise. It was on one of the first titles I played with my stepson and I’d highly recommend it for non-gamers. The controls are easy to learn, there’s no combat and the other players you meet in-game can only communicate with you through musical chimes. When Ethan realised the other characters were real players, he was keen to interact with and help them.

Life is Strange

I finally completed DONTNOD Entertainment’s darling last month and, although Life is Strange wasn’t for me, I can see how it’s a good release for non-gamers who love movies and good stories. Everyone has been through those teenage experiences so its characters are relatable (regardless of any supernatural abilities); and the time-travelling element makes for a few simple puzzles which could inspire players to go on and try more from the adventure genre. There’s also a whole host of other walking simulators to play if they enjoy it.

Little Inferno

I’ve returned to Tomorrow Corporation’s Little Inferno several times over the years because it’s fun and has a lovely message underneath its cartoony exterior. You’re given a ‘Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace’ and must burn items for money, which can then be used to purchase new objects from mail-order catalogues. There’s no scoring system or time penalties which means you’re able to freely experiment in order to find all 99 combinations. This could be a good choice for anyone who likes completing puzzles.

Overcooked

This has to be one of the most enjoyable yet frustrating releases ever published. Overcooked by Ghost Town Games is regularly pulled out at our family gatherings and everyone, even those who don’t usually play video games, want to have a go. It’s a good one for making non-gamers feel as though they’re working together as part of a team and plenty of communication between members is required to fulfil orders correctly and on time. There’s always someone who does nothing except spin around with the fire extinguisher, though.

That’s You!

That’s You! by Wish Studios is another title that frequently ends up getting played at our family gatherings because it’s just so hilarious. It’s kind of like The Jackbox Party Pack games in humour but here, team members take selfies which are then used to answer challenges to find out how well they know each other. During the later stages you’ll find yourself drawing on the photographs so things can get a little risqué if only adults are participating – this is exactly what happened when we streamed it for GameBlast18.

The Room

Do you know a non-gamer who enjoys escape rooms? Then get a copy of The Room by Fireproof Games for them because they’re going to love it. You’re presented with a series of boxes and must solve puzzles in order to unlock them, uncovering a story about their mysterious creator and an element with strange powers along the way. There’s such a sense of achievement when you reach the end. We played the latest release in the series, The Room VR: A Dark Matter, recently and really hope the developer treats us to another instalment very soon.

Thank you once again to Larissa from Games (and Other Bits) for her kind nomination! Hopefully this list will inspire the non-gamer in your life to grab a controller and become your player two. What have you been playing with your friends and family during the lockdown, and do you have any additions for today’s list?

My journey with walking simulators

Many people have been discussing their games of the decade recently and I’ve enjoyed seeing their choices. But for me, it’s too difficult to decide because we have so much choice: there’s a title out there for everybody and my favourites tend to change depending on my mood.

So let’s forget individual releases for a moment and instead discuss a wider subject, one brought up by Jett from In Third Person. He joined us in chat during one of our GameBlast20 50-day challenge streams recently and asked which new genres the past ten years in gaming have given birth to. My immediate reaction was to mention walking simulators; understandable seeing as the thing I love most about video games is the stories they tell.

The first I played was in 2012 after being introduced to it by Phil. Dear Esther had received a lot of attention since its release and he thought I’d like it; but sadly, he was wrong. The atmosphere was interesting but the title itself was far removed from the adventures I was used to in terms of both mechanics and structure, and I found it too ‘vague’. The big discussion going on in the industry back then was how pretentious indie games could be and Dear Esther seemed to fit the bill.

But that summer my eyes were opened to the potential of the walking simulator. A weekend spent with friends at a hired cottage saw us take along a PlayStation 4 for entertainment and play Journey one evening. The setting, artwork and music combined into an experience like nothing I’d seen before; and the way you were able to meet other players but not speak to them just made it even more meaningful somehow. We didn’t move for the length of the title and were still discussing it the following morning.

It was the following year though that my fondness for the walking simulator was confirmed. I’d been looking forward to Gone Home for a long time and I wasn’t disappointed when I finally managed to get my hands on it. It wonderfully captures 1990s culture and what it was like growing up in the decade; and more importantly, it also discusses views at the time and the stigma attached to being different. Anyone who says that video games simply entertainment would surely change their mind after playing it.

I’ve since gone on to play plenty of other entries in the genre and, while there have been a few misses, there have been way more hits. Firewatch, What Remains of Edith Finch, Night in the Woods, Virginia and at long last, Life is Strange; there are so many games in my library waiting for those times when I want to be immersed in a good story. Not all of them have happy endings but each tells a tale we can learn something important from.

I understand why walking simulators aren’t for everybody – and indeed, the genre received a lot of criticism when it first emerged in the 2010s. Not all players knew how to react to it and many were left confused: were walking around and looking at items the only things you could do? Was it even really a game if that was the case? The name ‘walking simulator’ soon arose and was used as a derogatory term given to releases with a lack of traditional gameplay mechanics.

But gradually, slower-paced exploration and environmental storytelling started to weave their way into game design. During the years after Gone Home there was an increase in the number of narrative first-person titles in a range of different genres. For example, The Stanley Parable makes great use of comedy and features a narrator whose personality changes depending on your choices; and several years later, Layers of Fear frightened players into leaving positive reviews.

Walking simulators challenged the way we think about video games during the last decade. The term has lost its negative connotations and is now a badge of honour: they’re games which encompass diverse narratives, compelling storylines, interesting exploration and fantastic writing. 2020 is looking bright for the genre and I can’t wait to see what its future holds.

We’re taking part in GameBlast20 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


Pour decisions: wine with video games

Getting Commander Shepherd drunk in every bar in Mass Effect. Using cocktails to manipulate moods in The Red Strings Club. Downing so much beer in Fable that you throw up and earn The Drinking Game achievement. Alcohol has long featured in video games in ways both subtle and over-the-top.

I’m writing this now with a fuzzy head on a Sunday morning, after going to my first wine-tasting event in London with my other-half the previous night. I can’t remember how many varieties we ended up trying but it must have been quite a few – and thankfully we managed to keep a list of those we really enjoyed. Through my alcohol-induced fog, I began thinking which of our chosen bottles would go well with video games so here’s a list of my best pour decisions.

Katie Jones La Gare Old Vine Syrah 2018

A classic big red ripe with dark fruit and notes of wild rosemary and thyme, with a peppery aroma. Barrel aging helps soften the wine and control its wild rustic character. Goes well with a meaty steak and chips.

Pete’s favourite wine of the evening. There’s nothing understated about it: it’s strong and packs a punch of flavour, and a wine like that needs a beefy video game to stand up to it. So how about something like Red Dead Redemption 2? These two ‘wild rustic characters’ could be a match made in heaven.

Stefano di Blasi Montepuliciano DOC 2018

An intense and velvety modern red, full to the brim with bright red fruit and smooth dark chocolate. It’s very easy drinking and will therefore suit many different pallets. Goes well with a rich, gamey stew.

A glass of this would be perfect in front of a roaring fire in the winter, and where better to find a ‘gamey stew’ than one of the traditional inns in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It’s a game that many people love regardless of what their preferred genre is so this easy-drinking tipple could be its perfect pairing.

Simpsons of Servian Sparkling Syrah 2018

A deliciously soft and fruity sparkling red with a fabulous deep opaque colour. Bursting with sweet red fruits, this is one to try if you’re intrigued by something different. Goes well with traditional fare like roasted turkey.

Sparkling wines go with special occasions and there’s nothing more special than this festive time of year – convenient, seeing as this one pairs well with turkey. Pour yourself a glass before digging out your old-school consoles so we can go retro with Home Alone. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal.

Ocaso Sparkling Rosé

This modern sparkling rosé may win over some red wine drinkers and convince them to give pink fizz a try. Think fresh cherries and strawberries full of small and brilliant bubbles. Goes well with grilled marinated shrimp or fish.

This tipple is a bright and happy one, and there’s just something about its bubbles that make it feel very uplifting. It therefore needs a positive game to go alongside it so a title like Journey could be a lovely choice here. I bet you’d have a great big smile on your face by the end of your play session… hic.

Cecilia Simon Tokaji 2015

Full-bodied and complex, here’s a modern dessert wine with sumptuous aromas of peach and figs. Subtle wooden notes thanks to spending 18-months in some big old barrels. Goes well with a meal of nuts, fig, dates, citrus or pear.

My favourite tasting of the night: I love the sweetness of dessert wine but this one had a slight acidity to it. That meant it was in no way sickly and was somehow refreshing, so a title like Eastshade would be a good match. The colour of the wine even reminds me of the golden sunset glow in game.

Quevedo LBV Port 2013

A late bottled vintage port lovingly aged for six years. Velvety caramel with a massive smack of vanilla and strawberries, and a hint of cherry bakewell tart. Goes well with cheese and roasted almonds after a delicious dinner.

A refined tipple. I’m not a port person but this one made me reconsider: it was incredibly smooth and like dessert in a glass. We felt it would be perfect for after Christmas dinner, sipping it on the sofa while playing cards, so how about a few rounds of solitaire with a game like Shadowhand?

Let’s end this post with a line suggested by Pete in his wine-induced morning haze: wine is fine, especially at game time. I’m now turning off the laptop and going to find the paracetamol.

Video Game Literary Classics 101

Imagine it’s 2050 and you’re helping design a course for high-school students called Video Game Literary Classics. You’ve been asked to suggest culturally-significant video games for them to academically analyse and discuss. Which titles would you choose for literary study and why?

It’s a good question, and one posed to the community by Angie over at Backlog Crusader at the end of last month. The aim here is to look at releases which say something significant about humanity; interesting philosophies, ethics or social commentary that’s worth in-depth discussion. The number of responses will determine how long the course will be and, although it’s been a very long time since I was in education, I’m stepping up to the challenge. Here are five games I’d suggest and the reasons why.

From 1993: Mortal Kombat

My brother had a Game Gear when we were kids, and we played the original Mortal Kombat together while news reports appeared on television and in papers to declare it as being a source of corruption. Back then it was considered to be a horribly-graphic release and both parents and politicians were worried about the affect it was having on children. I can remember my sibling and I thinking this was kind of stupid: how would playing a game on a screen make anyone to want to be violent in real life?

It was an interesting time. Society was a mix of excitement for new technology, fear of the impact of digital violence, and mass hysteria about ‘keeping our children safe’. Almost three decades later and the title in the spotlight may have changed but the moral panic hasn’t: we’re still having the same conversations about whether playing video games is harmful or addictive. Fortunately there’s plenty of research now to show the benefits too, so at least we’re able to have a more balanced discussion.

From 2012: Journey

In a complete contrast from the earlier release suggested above, Journey is about a quest to reach a mountain in the distance that contains no violence whatsoever. You’ll meet other players in-game with whom you can only communicate through musical noises made my your character; but far from being an obstacle, it in no way stops you from wanting to them on their way. Does this say something about human nature, that we’re all built with an intrinsic desire to be ‘good’ and do the right thing?

It’s something to ponder over, but one thing we can be sure Journey highlights is that gaming experiences can be beautiful, scary and exciting all at the same time. It ignited the debate about whether the medium should be considered as art and has a lovely philosophy at its core. My stepson summed it up nicely in a comment he came out with after completing the title: “So I’m the star… and the next person playing right now will see me in the sky at the start of their game. That’s cool.”

From 2013: Gone Home

Games like Journey and Dear Esther sparked a trend for narrative titles in the early 2010s which were sadly looked down on by some members of the community. They ended up becoming known as ‘walking simulators’, a derogatory term meant to imply that their lack of traditional gameplay made them less worthy than other action-heavy releases. Could something where the player did nothing but move forward and where there was no need for skill still be considered a video game?

Game, story, art: however you want to define it, the genre is perfect for telling a story and helping the player to see the world through someone else’s eyes. Gone Home in an amazing example as it wonderfully captures 1990s culture and what it was like growing up in the decade. More importantly, it also discusses views on homosexuality at the time and the stigma attached to being anything other than straight. We’ve still got a long way to go but it’s interesting to see how things have changed over the past 40 years.

From 2017: Horizon Zero Dawn

There are so many questions about society which can be explored through the narrative of Horizon Zero Dawn. Where will the relationship between humans and robots ultimately lead, and is artificial intelligence (AI) something to be feared? Will the way we’re treating the planet eventually lead to our downfall? And how does Aloy rappel down mountains, slide into patches of tall grass, go head-to-head with all sorts of dangerous machines and everything else Mother’s Heart throws at her – and still look absolutely perfect?

Jokes aside, this girl is far from being a one-dimensional character who only exists as an object to be rescued or for the gratification of men; and she actually wears something practical rather than being scantily-clad. There have been many discussions in recent years about the portrayal of digital women and just as much abuse thrown at the females who make them. Are protagonists such as Aloy, who we can be proud of and look up to, evidence that both the industry and gaming community are finally starting to grow up?

From 2017: Fortnite

Love it or hate it, Fortnite interestingly highlight several current trends in the gaming industry. The title itself is a copy of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and now other creators are starting to replicate Epic Games’ baby in return. Its free-to-play and cross-platform basis has been a reason for its huge popularity. But there have also been recent reports of the company’s employees being placed under extreme pressure to work gruelling hours too, revealing a darker side to maintaining the success.

It seems as though there’s not a week that goes by during which this game doesn’t make an appearance in the news. There’s a fear about how addictive it is and how it’s going to be the downfall of our children – but not so much talk about good parenting, and how it’s important to know what your youngsters are playing and whether it’s suitable for them. Whose responsibility is it to moderate: parents or publishers? And what impact is this going to have on society in the long-run?

Thank you to Angie for coming up with this collaboration, and for letting me participate! There’s still time to join in: take a look at her post before 23 June 2019 for all the details, and get involved.